HANNIE CAULDER (1971)--Directed by Burt Kennedy. Stars Raquel Welch, Robert Culp, Ernest Borgnine, Jack Elam, Strother Martin. When sexy Raquel is raped and her husband murdered by Old West scumbags Borgnine, Elam and Martin, she recruits spectacle-wearing gunslinger Culp to teach her to shoot a gun. She learns, using a pistol specially built for her, and kills the bad guys. Features British horror star Christopher Lee in his first (and only?) Western. Also with Stephen Boyd and Diana Dors. Filmed in Spain.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (1981)--Directed by J. Lee Thompson. Stars Melissa Sue Anderson, Glenn Ford, Tracey Bregman. The participation of old pro Thompson (THE GUNS OF NAVARONE) and movie legend Ford (BLACKBOARD JUNGLE) lends a certain credibility to this slick slasher flick released by Columbia Pictures. It earned much notoriety upon its initial release because of its graphic poster, which showed a young man about to be skewered in the throat by a shish-kebab (!), and for the casting of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE actress Anderson, who strips, swears and smokes pot amid the often bloody killings.
Five years after an auto accident which killed her mother and forced herself into experimental brain surgery (which is shown in gory detail), teenager Virginia (Anderson) returns to the Crawford Academy, where her grades land her among the top ten students in her class. The Top Ten all hang out together--at least until they begin disappearing one at a time. The poster tag reads, "Six of the most bizarre murders you've ever seen!"; there are actually more than six, and while they aren't all of a bizarre nature, some are pretty imaginative (including the afore-mentioned shish-kebab trick). Thompson does a fine job building suspense by hiding the killer's identity from us, and cleverly introducing a number of red herrings (like subtly having his characters wear black gloves like the ones we see on the killer). Virginia, who suffers from convenient blackouts whenever another of her friends vanishes, is the most likely suspect. Or is that just a little too obvious? Chances are excellent that the denouement, which is set during the night of Virginia's birthday, will take you by complete surprise, as it contains one jawdropping twist on top of another (and was the obvious inspiration for certain aspects of Kevin Williamson's SCREAM screenplay).
This is a '80s horror flick that, unlike PROM NIGHT and a few others, genuinely delivers. Thompson wisely doesn't skimp on the gore (which is why were watching in the first place), the smooth camerawork and Canadian locations add a touch of class to the proceedings, and the orchestral score by Bo Harwood and Lance Rubin hits all the right notes. Also with Lawrence Dane, Sharon Acker, Matt Craven, Lisa Langlois, Lenore Zann and David Eisner. I still find it surprising that a star of Ford's stature agreed to be in this.
THE HAPPY HOOKER GOES HOLLYWOOD (1979)--Directed by Alan Roberts. Stars Martine Beswick, Adam West, Chris Lemmon, Richard Deacon. If you're wondering what Batman and Mel Cooley look like dressed as women, you've come to the right place. Beswick is sexy as Xaviera Hollander (played by three different actresses in three different films), who raises money to make films by running a Hollywood brothel. Edie Adams, Dick Miller, Lindsay Bloom and Army Archerd were also talked into appearing in this somehow.
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY, LOVE, GEORGE--See RUN, STRANGER, RUN.
HARD BOILED MAHONEY (1947)--Directed by William Beaudine. Stars Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Bernard Gorcey. Routine Bowery Boys B-pic from Monogram Studios pits the boys against a phony fortune-teller and a trumped-up murder charge. With Bobby Jordan, Gabriel Dell, Billy Benedict, David Gorcey, Teala Loring and Dan Compton.
A HARD DAY'S NIGHT (1964)--Directed by Richard Lester. Stars the Beatles, Wilfred Brambill, Victor Spinetti, Roy Kinnear. Excellent musical comedy about a supposed "day in the life" of England's greatest pop music group. Lester's kinetic visual style, consisting of quick editing, fast motion, and various camera tricks, was aided by the terrific performances given by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. All four turned out to be talented comic actors. Alun Owen's ingenious screenplay allowed each Beatle to develop a distinctive screen persona, as well as deliver a batch of clever one-liners and non-sequiters. Lennon and McCartney wrote most of the songs, including "I Should Have Know Better", "And I Love Her" and the title track. Somehow lost the Best Song Score Oscar to MY FAIR LADY.
HARD JUSTICE (1996)--Directed by Greg Yaitanes. Stars David Bradley, Charles Napier, Yuji Okumoto, Jim Maniaci. Fans of the great character actor Charles Napier will probably derive the most entertainment value from this dumb action movie set mostly in prison. A very unusual prison, actually, filled with all kinds of underground and hidden passages where inmates can roam at will, roomy cells approximately the size of an apartment in downtown Tokyo, and interiors that greatly resemble an abandoned warehouse (hmmm...). The warden's office is obviously the top floor of a warehouse, with junk leaning against the wall, pockmarks in the paint, and enough space to park in--the producers were too cheap even to construct a fake wall to conceal the long line of windows behind the warden's desk.
Action-movie perennial Bradley (AMERICAN NINJA 3) plays Nick Adams, a very resourceful ATF agent (who mows down a few dozen bad guys all by himself in the opening setpiece) who goes undercover in a prison to discover the murderer of another undercover officer, Manny, who was investigating a gun-running operation taking place within the prison's walls. Ingratiating himself with his big, bald cellmate Mr. Clean (Maniaci) by bashing his head in, Nick immediately attracts suspicion by asking too many questions, incurring the wrath of the cruel Warden Pike (Napier), who often waxes rhapsodic about his days in a Viet Cong POW camp.
Besides its cheap production design and routine storyline in which no cliche is left unturned and no twist comes as even the slightest surprise, HARD JUSTICE suffers from director Yaitanes' cribbing from other (better) sources, most notably John Woo's oeuvre. If you like to see slow-motion scenes of gunmen floating through the air sideways firing pistols in both hands or rolling across the floor firing pistols in both hands or standing fifty feet apart firing pistols in both hands (and missing their opponents!), this movie is for you, I guess, although you'd be better off watching HARD-BOILED or even HARD TARGET instead. Napier is the best reason to watch; he isn't doing anything he hasn't done before, but his hamming and Southern-fried style of twisting a wry homily are in fine form here. Bradley is actually pretty decent too, although most of the other actors are inconsequential. There are worse direct-to-video features out there, but a lot of better ones too. Also with Clabe Hartley (TRANCERS 4 & 5), Benita Andre, Adam Clark and Vernon Wells (THE ROAD WARRIOR). Music by Don Peake.
HARD RAIN (1998)--Directed by Mikael Salomon. Stars Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater, Randy Quaid, Minnie Driver. A dopey script by Graham Yost (SPEED) seriously hampers this waterlogged action flick, which features a lot of slogging around among impressive sets and special effects. Slater is an armored car driver who is held up during a ravaging flood (which is supposed to be set in an Indiana town, but looks more like the Pacific Northwest to me). He hides the money in the evacuated town, and tries to evade the pursuit by the robbers (led by Freeman). Slater also gets involved with sheriff Quaid and his deputies, and a cute young woman (Driver) who refuses to be evacuated with everyone else because she wants to protect the stained glass windows shes restoring at her church. Characterization and dialogue are pretty damp (Quaid's actions are particularly baffling), and Slater, like he was in BROKEN ARROW, is a dull action hero, but a jet-ski chase through a flooded high school is pretty cool. This movie must have been a major pain to make--it's always dark and rainy, and the actors are constantly immersed in feet of water--so it's a shame that it turned out so badly. Paramount sat on it for over a year before finally releasing it in the dumping ground that is January. Also with Richard Dysart, Edward Asner, Betty White and LAW & ORDER's Dann Florek. Music by Christopher Young. Filmed as THE FLOOD, its title was changed after dueling volcano movies DANTE'S PEAK and VOLCANO were box-office flops. Directorial debut of former cinematographer Salomon.
HARD TARGET (1993)--Directed by John Woo. Stars Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lance Henriksen, Yancy Butler. Probably Van Damme's best film, thanks to wildly kinetic direction by Woo (in his American directorial debut after dozens of Hong Kong actioners) and a wonderfully evil performance by Henriksen as Fouchon, who uses homeless folks as bait for rich hunters in this MOST DANGEROUS GAME ripoff set in New Orleans. Jean-Claude explains away his accent by playing a Cajun sailor who becomes one of Fouchon's targets. To make the hunts more sporting, Fouchon and sidekick Pik (Vosloo) recruit targets with military experience and no family to come looking for them, but make the mistake of selecting Butler's father (the actress's real-life father was the Lovin' Spoonful's drummer!). Since the police are on strike, Yancy hires Van Damme to be her guide as she investigates her fathers murder.
Flick skimps on character development and common sense sometimes, but this is obviously an action romp based on style over substance, and Woo is one of contemporary cinemas great stylists. A lot of very cool chases, explosions and shootouts, with Van Damme's climactic chopsocky battle with Henriksen (who plays his death scene for laughs) a highlight. The bootlegged directors cut features 20 extra minutes, including tons of extra gore and a (tame) love scene between J-C and Yancy. Also with Wilford Brimley, Arnold Vosloo, Kasi Lemmons, Ted Raimi and scripter Chuck Pfarrer as an early victim. Produced by Robert Tapert and Sam Raimi. Music by Graeme Revell. Butler boasts a pair of the best eyebrows in the business.
HARD TICKET TO HAWAII (1987)--Directed by Andy Sidaris. Stars Ronn Moss, Dona Spier, Hope Marie Carlton, Rodrigo Obregon. Next to Russ Meyer, Sidaris, an Emmy-winning sports director at ABC for nearly three decades, is probably America's most successful T&A filmmaker. His movies, which can generally be found on late-night cable TV or filling the shelves of the 2-for-$1.00 section of the video store, may be dumb, but they're also slick-looking and contain just the right amounts of nudity and action. In HARD TICKET, a sequel of sorts to MALIBU EXPRESS (a poster of which lines the bedroom wall of one character in HARD TICKET), comely government agents Donna (Speir) and Taryn (Carlton) stumble upon a diamond smuggling operation on the Hawaiian island of Molokai under their guise as cargo airplane pilots. Summoning help from operative Rowdy Abilene (Moss) in Los Angeles, the girls find themselves the target of mobster Seth Romero (Obregon), who wants his diamonds back and will go to extreme lengths to get them. Meanwhile, Donna and Taryn have another problem: a deadly super-powerful python infested with the toxin of cancer-riddled rats (!) is on the loose and racking up victims left and right.
If you enjoy gorgeous nude women, explosions, outrageous gadgets and lush scenery and don't think too much about what you're watching, you should get a kick out of all of Sidaris' films. They all more or less follow the same formula, alternating scenes of softcore sex, banal dialogue, atrocious acting, and cheap action scenes. This was the first Sidaris appearance for PLAYBOY's Miss March 1984 Speir (who did seven for Andy altogether) and for Miss July 1985 Carlton (three). Both are lovely, serviceable actresses who show plenty of skin, although the perky Carlton brightens up the screen in a way the more confident Speir doesn't. PLAYBOY aficionados will recognize Playmates Cynthia Brimhall and Patty Duffel, while kickboxer Harold Diamond, future TARZAN actor Wolf Larson, Hawaiian character actor Kwan Hi Lim and Sidaris himself also appear. Moss, a former member of Player ("Baby Come Back"), is a regular on THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL. Music by Gary Stockdale. Produced by Arlene Sidaris, Andy's wife.
HARD TIME (1998)--Directed by Burt Reynolds. Stars Burt Reynolds, Charles Durning, Robert Loggia, Mia Sara, Billy Dee Williams, Buck Taylor. Burt followed up his BOOGIE NIGHTS Oscar nomination with a trio of standard cop thrillers for Turner Network Television. He's Miami detective Logan McQueen, framed for the murder of a street punk who was carrying $300,000 of the Mob's money, $190,000 of which is missing. McQueen, with his friend and partner Charlie (Durning), fights to clear his name with his boss (Taylor, Newly on GUNSMOKE), the district attorney (Williams) and the mobster (Loggia) who wants his money back. Beautiful Sara (from FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF) delivers the best performance as Burt's spunky lawyer. You've seen this plot a million times on TV cop shows, and writers David S. Cass Sr. and Steve Wesley add nothing new. Reynolds's direction is strictly paint-by-numbers, and most of the cast is left to fend for themselves with only one-dimensional characters to play. Also with Michael Buie, John D'Aquino, Ja'Net DuBois (Willona on GOOD TIMES), Paco Christian Prieto and Roddy Piper. Blah musical score is by Snuff Garrett. Production design by Lawrence G. Paull (BLADE RUNNER). Reynolds reprised his Logan McQueen character in THE PREMONITION and HOSTAGE HOTEL.
HARD TIME II: THE PREMONITION (1999)--See THE PREMONITION
HARD TIME III: HOSTAGE HOTEL (1999)--See HOSTAGE HOTEL
HARD TIMES (1974)--Directed by Walter Hill. Stars Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Jill Ireland, Strother Martin, Michael McGuire. Hill's first film as a director was this hard-hitting action tale of an itinerant streetfighter (Bronson) and his oily manager (Coburn) trying to reach the top in 1930s New Orleans. Hill captures the period flavor, and his fight scenes are astoundingly brutal. Bronson was 54 years old at the time! He looks fifteen years younger. Martin gives his usual fine performance as a drug-addicted doctor.
HARD TO KILL (1990)--Directed by Bruce Malmuth. Stars Steven Seagal, Kelly LeBrock, William Sadler. Violent but highly implausible actioner about a Los Angeles cop (Seagal) who returns after seven years in a coma to capture the corrupt politician (Sadler) who put him there. Seagal is aided by gorgeous nurse LeBrock (the real-life Mrs. Seagal). Lots of head-bashings, flying bullets and crashing glass.
THE HARD WAY (1991)--Directed by John Badham. Stars James Woods, Michael J. Fox, Annabella Sciorra. Enjoyable action comedy about a pampered movie star (Fox) doing research for a role who tags along with a hardboiled New York detective (Woods) who's chasing a serial killer. Both stars seem to be having a blast, and one scene in particular featuring Fox teaching Woods how to pick up women is one of Fox's best. Also with Stephen Lang, LL Cool J, Christina Ricci and Penny Marshall as Fox's agent. Script by Daniel Pyne and Lem Dobbs.
HARD WAY OUT (1996)--Directed by Rick Jacobsen. Stars Don "The Dragon" Wilson, John Patrick White, Jillian McWhirter, Warren Burton, Donnie Hair. This retread of TARGET and TRUE LIES was originally the 8th in Concorde/New Horizons' BLOODFIST series, all starring Wilson, but usually as different characters. This time, he's high school teacher Rick Cowan, a single father of incorrigible 16-year-old Chris (White). When a gang of assassins invades the Cowan home, forcing Rick to dispatch them in high-kicking style, Chris is exposed to the past he never knew his father had. Turns out Rick is actually George Macready (!), an ex-CIA agent who must reteam with his old partner Danielle (McWhirter) and boss Michael Powell (Burton) to discover who's trying to kill him. "Mac" and Chris, with Danielle alongside, travel to Ireland, where they hope to find some answers.
Besides the interesting choice of Ireland as a location, there isn't much to recommend about HARD WAY OUT. None of the performers, including McWhirter, who has done much better work in similar DTV action movies, manage any color, humor or nuance from Alex Simon's paint-by-numbers screenplay, and the movie really suffers from the lack of a strong villain. The father-son stuff has also been done better elsewhere. And would ya believe it if I told you Powell's sidekick is named Emeric Pressburger (Hair)? Also with Conor Nolan, Richard Farrell and John McHugh. Roger Corman was executive producer. From the director of BLOODFIST VI. Also known as BLOODFIST VIII: TRAINED TO KILL. Music by John Faulkner.
HARD-BOILED (1992)--Directed by John Woo. Stars Chow Yun-Fat, Tony Leung. Highly kinetic, ultra-violent Hong Kong gangster movie about a jazz-loving detective named Tequila (Chow Yun-Fat, Hong Kong's version of Clint Eastwood). One amazing shootout takes place in a restaurant, and the climactic setpiece involves a burning hospital and a urinating baby. I don't really know what its all about (no subtitles on the copy I saw), but it really moves. Woo's last Asian picture before coming West to make HARD TARGET with Jean-Claude Van Damme.
HARDBODIES (1984)--Directed by Mark Griffiths. Stars Grant Cramer, Gary Wood, Michael Rapport. Three middle-aged stud-wannabes hire a young blond surfer dude (Cramer) to teach them how to pick up chicks. No laughs, no twists, but lots of beautiful naked women.
HARDBODIES 2 (1986)--Directed by Mark Griffiths. Stars Brad Zutaut, Sam Temeles, James Karen, Roberta Collins. More naked women on display, this time in Greece, where actors Zutaut and Temeles and arrogant director Karen have gone to shoot a low-budget movie. Just as witless as the original, although it's great to see '70s exploitation queen Collins on screen again.
HARDCORE (1979)--Directed by Paul Schrader. Stars George C. Scott, Season Hubley, Peter Boyle, Dick Sargent. Scott stars as a strict Calvinist minister who travels to Los Angeles to search for his missing teenage daughter, who disappeared while on a field trip. He discovers she has fallen into the seamy world of pornography, and teams up with a young prostitute, who becomes a surrogate daughter to Scott. Schrader does a good job penetrating the previously taboo subject of pornographic and snuff films. The scene where Scott watches his daughter acting in an adult film is particularly harrowing. From the director of PATTY HEARST. Music by Jack Nitzsche. John Milius was an executive producer.
HARDLY WORKING (1981)--Directed by Jerry Lewis. Stars Jerry Lewis, Roger C. Carmel, Susan Oliver, Deanna Lund. Jerry's first film in over ten years was a major disappointment. He was still making the same kind of films that he made in the sixties, but America's idea of humor had moved on since then. Lewis plays an out-of-work clown who tackles a variety of jobs, including gas station attendant and chef. Lots of pratfalls, mugging and sight gags ensue. Lund (of TV's LAND OF THE GIANTS) looks great though. You'd really have to be a Lewis fan to sit through this one.
THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS ON GILLIGAN'S ISLAND (1981)--Directed by Peter Baldwin. Stars Bob Denver, Alan Hale, Jim Backus, Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, and the Harlem Globetrotters. The absolute nadir of Oscar-winner Landau's career--and that's saying a lot! He plays a megalomaniac scientist who discovers some kind of secret power source on the island, and, along with sensual sidekick Bain and an army of cheesy-looking robots, plans to trick the castaways out of their share of the island. Meanwhile, the Harlem Globetrotters have landed on the island as well, and the whole plot centers on a climactic basketball game between Landau's robots and the Globetrotters (with Gilligan and the Skipper playing as well). It's almost impossible to believe that this actually aired on network television in prime time. Also with Natalie Schafer, Russell Johnson, Dawn Wells, Constance Forslund in for Tina Louise as Ginger and David Ruprecht as Thurston Howell IV (the Howells have a son!).
HARLEY DAVIDSON AND THE MARLBORO MAN (1991)--Directed by Simon Wincer. Stars Don Johnson, Mickey Rourke. I liked this silly buddy movie about a pair of bikers who attempt to rob a corrupt bank official and accidentally end up with a cache of illegal drugs, which the bad guys desperately want back. This was a critical and commercial flop, but I think that may have been a result of backlash against the macho leads, since Johnson and Rourke have terrific chemistry together. Wincer handles the action scenes very well, and the script by actor Don Michael Paul contains some very funny lines. Also with Tom Sizemore, Chelsea Field, Tia Carrere, Robert Ginty, Vanessa Williams, Daniel Baldwin and Giancarlo Esposito.
HARPER (1966)--Directed by Jack Smight. Stars Paul Newman, Lauren Bacall, Julie Harris, Shelley Winters, Robert Wagner, Pamela Tiffin. One of Newman's finest roles was as gum-chewing, wisecracking private eye Lew Harper. Harper is hired by a wealthy woman (Bacall) to track down her kidnapped husband. He then becomes involved in a smuggling ring. Terrific cast also includes Janet Leigh, Arthur Hill and Robert Webber. Script by William Goldman contains a lot of funny lines, which are given expert delivery by Newman. He appears to be having a good time, and so are we. Based on Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer novel THE MOVING TARGET. Film should have been titled ARCHER, but Newman was having a streak of good luck with HOMBRE, HUD and other "H" movies.
HARPER VALLEY P.T.A. (1978)--Directed by Richard Bennett. Stars Barbara Eden, Nanette Fabray, Ronny Cox. The P.T.A. chapter of tiny Harper Valley, Ohio is outraged at the antics of sexy mom Eden, who likes to have fun and parade around town in miniskirts. Eden, aided by best friend Fabray, decides to teach the hypocritical parents a lesson. Directed and acted on the level of a TV sitcom, which this dumb comedy later inspired (also with Eden). Also with Louis Nye and Pat Paulsen.
HARRY AND TONTO (1974)--Directed by Paul Mazursky. Stars Art Carney, Ellen Burstyn, Larry Hagman, Chief Dan George, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Melanie Mayron, Josh Mostel. Carney won an Academy Award for Best Actor in this sweet comedy/drama as a widowed senior citizen who makes a trip cross-country to visit his son (Hagman). Along the way, he meets a homicidal Indian (George), a kooky hitchhiker (Mayron), an old girlfriend (Fitzgerald) and his estranged daughter (Burstyn). A fine performance by Carney.
HARRY O (1974)--Directed by Richard Lang. Stars David Janssen, Martin Sheen, Margot Kidder, Mariana Hill, Sal Mineo, Kathleen Lloyd. Seven years after finally convincing Lieutenant Gerard of his innocence in the final episode of THE FUGITIVE, Janssen returned to television (he had also starred in a one-season flop, O'HARA, U.S. TREASURY, for executive producer Jack Webb) as cynical private eye Harry Orwell in this series pilot.
Orwell was a former San Diego cop who had to leave the force after being shot in the back by a pair of armed robbers in the same incident in which his partner was killed. Nestled next to his spine and unable to be removed by surgeons is the bullet that almost crippled him. To supplement his pension and to provide funds to renovate his boat, the Answer, Orwell works out of his beach house as a private detective. He usually takes the bus in pursuit of clues, since his beat-up car is usually in the shop, and the bullet in his back prevents him from engaging in much physical activity, which is fine with Harry, since he's too world-weary to beat people up anyway.
In the ninety-minute (with commercials) pilot, Orwell wakes up one morning to find a guilt-stricken youth named Harlan Garrison (Sheen) in his bedroom waving a pistol. Garrison is the robber who shot Orwell, and, after serving two years in Vietnam, has returned to make amends, and hands Harry $1400 for an operation to remove the bullet from his back. He also wants to hire Harry to find his old partner Walter Scheerer (Mineo), the young man who fired the shot that killed Harry's partner. Scheerer and Garrison's former girlfriend Marilyn (THE CAR's Lloyd, billed as Kathleen Geckle) have teamed up to start a heroin operation out of Walter's late father's paint factory, and have also put out a contract on Harlan's life.
As the introduction to one of TV's best-written crime dramas, HARRY O does a fine job establishing the Orwell character, who is a crusty loner more at ease with a wisecrack than an actual personal relationship; even though engaged in a romance of sorts with a lovely woman named Mildred (Hill)--a relationship Harry clearly wishes to keep in the bedroom and no further--Harry wastes no time making the acquaintance of single secretary Helen (Kidder), picking her up in a bar on the spur of the moment, spending the night at her place, and leaving her in the lurch in the middle of the night with her car keys in hand.
Although much of the credit must go to writer Howard Rodman (COOGAN'S BLUFF) and producer-director Thorpe (KUNG FU), it is mostly Janssen's own acting abilities and charm that makes Orwell such a fascinating character. Janssen rarely had the opportunity to showcase his own laconic sense of humor, and in HARRY O, he indulges himself to his heart's content, tossing off one-liners and friendly banter with both his friends and enemies. Orwell, along with James Garner's Rockford (who premiered on NBC the same year), is one of television's great detectives, and perhaps Janssen's best--and even most fondly remembered--role.
HARRY O was followed by another feature-length pilot, SMILE, JENNY, YOU'RE DEAD, which co-starred Zalman King and Andrea Marcovicci, and 44 episodes of a critically acclaimed yet modestly rated series. Also with Will Geer, Mel Stewart, Karen Lamm, Les Lannom and Cheryl Ladd. Music by Richard Hazard.